The Geezer and the Page Boy

Boulder Weekly | October 3, 2006
Where have we heard this before? Blame it on drugs and booze.

I have trouble text messaging while sober. But now we are hearing that Congressman Foley was a master of the Blackberry as an alcoholic. It appears that for the powerful and important Foley, the effects of alcoholism were quite selective: freeing only his inner Chicken Hawk.

In his favor, at least Congressman Foley had the good sense to resign. But I am concerned about his returning from detox as a repackaged and repentant 12-stepper. Alcoholism is one thing, sexual preferences are quite another. Drunk or sober, therapists will do well if they can get Mr. Foley to draw the line at boyish looking 18-year-olds.

As for suggestions that Congressman Foley was a pedophile, let's get our perversions straight. Pedophiles are aroused by prepubescent children. Congressman Foley found teenage boys or "twinks" to be sexually alluring. This is called a hebephile. Both can be predators or not, depending on the acts, laws and jurisdictions.

To put the twink matter in perspective, gay porn sites offer choices ranging from "twinks," who are youngish-looking and cute teenage boys, to "bears," who are big, hairy, brawny men in their 30s and 40s. Puberty has barely tapped the twink on the shoulder, while it has clearly clobbered the bear.

Explicit as their sex-messaging was, the teen Congressional page who sex-messaged with Foley wasn't being any more "out there" than other teenagers, especially some of the 14-year-old girls on MySpace. Where you start to get nauseous is when you realize that this wasn't the sex-messaging of two teenagers, or of two 50-year-olds, but of a teen and a 52-year-old Congressional geezer. The geezer's messages are textbook examples of how a predator communicates. It was a geezer trying to sound like a kid.

For the spin masters who are trying to do damage control, I agree in part. It's a rare day when someone 50 or older stops noticing teenage bodies. The difference is that psychologically healthy 50-year-olds keep it a pleasant fantasy. They don't text message it. To minimize Foley's actions makes the spin masters look as twisted as the Florida Chicken Hawk himself.

One of the first things I thought of when I heard about the Foley-Page-Boy Follies was how the Catholic Church handled their pedophile priests. What is it about being in a large organization--Republican, Democrat, Catholic--that allows us to turn a blind eye to things we know are wrong? If congressional pages knew about it as early as 2001, and warned each other about Foley then, we didn't need to see the actual text messages to know that Foley was a danger and needed to be reported to law enforcement.

Back when I was in Catholic grade school, we boys would warn each other about priestly perversions. I can remember when a priest who was new to the parish took it upon himself to "measure" one of the altar boy's thighs with his two bare hands. The rest of us heard about it in nanoseconds. Seems the congressional pages did the same about Foley. If Foley's fellow congressmen knew about it, then they, like the Catholic Church, took the coward's way out. They are as culpable as Foley. I wonder if the parents of congressional pages will be able to sue them for knowing they were placing minors in harm's way.

One thing I do fear is that some people will cite this as an example of how modern technology (e.g. the Internet and text messaging) is putting teens and children at risk. Actually, the opposite was true in this case.

Foley made his connection with these kids in person, which is what parents need to be aware of. In-person connections are still 100 to 1000 times more likely to be where a predator will snare a child than the Internet. I would never minimize concerns about what my teen was doing on the computer, but if your teenager works at Taco Bell, I would still be more concerned about the older employees than the Internet; quadruple that for when you let your teenager roam the malls, and now, if your teen is a Congressional page.

As for the impact of technology on sex, until the early 1900s, there were as many brothels in America as there are sushi bars and gyms today. The average age of the prostitute was under 16, and this was before we had radio, phones, cars and wifi. If anything, technology has heralded in a decrease of sex between adults and minors.

Is there a single American who doesn't know that Mark Foley would still be at the top of congressional heap if it hadn't been for his little smart phone?

Paul Joannides writes a weekly column on sex for the Boulder Weekly. He is also author of "Guide To Getting It On!"

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